The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has urged domestic airline operators to invest in the training of pilots and engineers, as well as other industry professionals. The Acting Director-General of NCAA, Benedict Adeyileka who made the call, said it is only such investment that would enhance indigenous capacity in the sector. He told The Nation that a situation in which most of the airlines have foreign flight crew because indigenous professionals do not possess the requisite experience and training to close the manpower gap in the industry, is undermining the growth of the aviation industry.
He said the criteria placed by some domestic operators to engage young pilots is too high to attract some category of pilots, who are yet to get enough flying hours to be in command of an aircraft. He said the over 500 flying hours set by a certain operator to engage pilots is too high, even as he urged the affected carrier to review the flying limit so as to give room for budding pilots. Adeyileka, said the NCAA will convoke a meeting with domestic operators to consider ways of engaging young indigenous pilots, so as to reduce pilot unemployment in Nigeria. He said there are over 300 unemployed pilots who were trained both at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology ( NCAT), in Zaria, Kaduna State and other training institutions across the world. He explained that on graduation, the young pilots only acquire 25 flying hours, while most airlines require between 250 to 500 hours to engage some category of pilots.
Meanwhile, the Managing-Director of Bristow Helicopters Nigeria Limited, Captain Akin Oni, has attributed the pilots predicament inability to pass competence tests, and low quality training from overseas training institutions as part of the reasons why many indigenous pilots are unable to secure employment in the aviation sector.
Oni, who spoke last week while unveiling the 20 cadet helicopter pilots to be sent to the United States by Bristow Helicopters for a one year training at the academy run by the firm in America, said the 20 cadet helicopter pilots trainees would cost the airline over $500 million, adding that it costs about $250,000 each to train cadet pilot for the one -year abinition training programme. Bristow Helicopters, Oni said has trained over 300 helicopter pilots in the past thirty years, as part of its capacity building programme in the aviation sector.
Oni said Bristow Helicopters will continue to invest in the training of indigenous pilots, as part of its contributions to improve indigenous competence and competitiveness reduce the number of expatriate pilots in its employ. He said the airline is carrying out the manpower development programme in compliance with the local content policy of government meant to create job opportunities for qualified Nigerians to run critical sectors of the economy. Oni said airlines incur more costs to engage foreign pilots, for which they pay more to guarantee their security in view of kidnapping, huge costs of accommodations, travel expenses, salaries and other incidentals associated with foreign employees. The Bristow Helicopters boss said some of the 20 cadets would spend some time at the Nigerian College Of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, Kaduna State and the International Aviation College, Ilorin for ground studies and basic flying rules, before they travel to the United States.